Indonesia Foreign Policy 2018: Focus on Asean and Indo-Pacific Region

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Indonesia Foreign Policy 2018: Indonesia’s 2018 foreign policy priorities, which include strengthening the unity of the ASEAN and promoting peace, stability and prosperity of its member states and the Indo-Pacific region

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Tuesday (09/01) outlined Indonesia’s 2018 foreign policy priorities, which include strengthening the unity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and promoting peace, stability and prosperity of its member states and the Indo-Pacific region.

Indonesia will also try to win a seat at the United Nations Security Council and will conclude ongoing negotiations on economic cooperation.

Speaking at an annual press event in Central Jakarta, Retno said Indonesia will pursue a “practical and effective” code of conduct in the South China Sea. It will also seek a plan of action to implement the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, which was reached in November, during the association’s summit in Manila, after 10 years of negotiations.

In August, foreign ministers representing Southeast Asia and China adopted a framework for the code of conduct in the South China Sea, laying a foundation to begin official talks on the disputed strategic waters.

During her speech, Retno said Indonesia will work to tackle transnational crime, including human trafficking, terrorism and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. She touched on the importance of legal cooperation among Asean member countries and said that Indonesia will initiate negotiations over an Asean extradition treaty.

Indonesia foreign policy will also seek a stronger Asean presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The world’s fourth most populous country plans to conclude ongoing negotiations on various trade and economy cooperation, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and its comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPA) with the European Union, Turkey and Australia.

“Negotiations on a new generation of bilateral investment agreements will also be intensified with [our] partner countries such as Switzerland and Singapore,” Retno added.

In 2018, Indonesia will host a number of high-profile international events, including the inaugural World Conference on Creative Economy in May, the Asian Games in August, and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meeting in October.

More intense negotiations over international borders are also in the 2018 pipeline.

In 2017, border demarcation deals were negotiated 35 times, and the 2013 agreement on the Indonesian-Papua New Guinea border was finally ratified.

Indonesia foreign policy also ratified the exclusive economic zone boundary with the Philippines.

According to Retno, Indonesia’s peacebuilding diplomacy will be reinforced by partnerships with like-minded countries and through the establishment of Indonesian Aid — a single agency responsible for delivering Indonesia’s international assistance.

“The delivery of Indonesian aid will be carried out through one channel, with an initial budget of Rp 1 trillion [$ 74.4 million],” Retno said.

Throughout 2017, Indonesia was campaigning internationally to be selected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Elections for the 2019-20 term will be held in June.

The last time Indonesia occupied the seat was in 2007-08.

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